Integrity-Keepers in Argentina Rewarded
FOR more than 30 years, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Argentina found it necessary to carry on their Kingdom activities under great pressure. Nevertheless, they have always maintained Christian neutrality, avoided every form of idolatry and adhered to the Bible in all other ways. (John 17:16; Exodus 20:4-6; 1 John 5:19) They have also continued to press ahead in doing God’s work and upholding the righteous principles of his Word. Their faithful endurance was rewarded when they were given official recognition as a religion on March 9, 1984.
Happily, Argentina’s present government has taken an enlightened view of the Witnesses and their Scriptural position. In recognition of their status as a religious organization and out of respect for freedom of worship, the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses were recently exempted from participation in patriotic ceremonies. Of interest in this regard is the following report appearing in the well-known newspaper La Nacion, of Buenos Aires, on August 18, 1984:
“Exception to School Rules for Honoring the Flag”
“For religious reasons, students in teaching establishments set up for the promotion of the teaching of raising and lowering the flag can renounce this honor, according to a resolution of the Ministry of Education and Justice, signed by Dr. Carlos Alconada Aramburù.
“This modifies the last paragraph of the point ‘National Flag’ B 2 of the resolution No. 1635/78, which said: ‘Students cannot renounce this honor (assignment for carrying, raising and lowering the country’s emblem) for religious reasons or for any other reason they may call upon.’
“In this way, a great number of problems are avoided, which have arisen in many schools attended by students who are members of certain religions that prohibit the veneration of emblems that do not exclusively represent God, or simply preach as sinful all worship of effigies or earthly symbols.
“The ministerial resolution specifies that the refusal of this function must be based ‘on the principles upheld by any religion or cult recognized by the state and inscribed in the National Ministry of Foreign Relations and Worship’ and extends the application of the rule ‘to the veneration, display and carrying of the National Emblem, insignia and symbols that have the colors of the country, and the singing of the National Anthem.’
“Finally, the ministerial resolution No. 1818 points out that ‘this criterion will be applied, provided that the attitude of abstention is respectful and private and does not arouse manifestations of offense, affront, scorn or dishonor.’”
On the same date, the Buenos Aires newspaper Clarin made a similar report under the heading “More Respect for Freedom of Worship,” and added:
“Anything but Affronts”
“In this case, the Ministry’s resolution expresses that the criterion will be applied provided that the abstention is respectful, private and does not involve affronts, offense, scorn or dishonor.
“By the same decree, resolution No. 1635 of 1978 was annulled which established that no student could renounce the acts and honors mentioned by alleging religious or other reasons.
“The annulled resolution was repeatedly questioned, especially by the adherents of Jehovah’s Witnesses who, out of respect for their religion, refuse to venerate the symbol of any country.
“This question caused numerous conflicts during the military regime since the students who followed this criterion were expelled from the schools, to the extent that they were appealed before the lower courts.
“Also, followers of this sect were sentenced to prison by the military authorities during the period from 1976/1983 because they considered this to be an insult or disgrace to the nation that had provided them with their primary studies and in some cases at a higher level.”
It is fine to observe this evidence of respect for freedom of worship. And such steps as these have, indeed, proved to be a grand reward for integrity-keeping witnesses of Jehovah in Argentina.